UN sup­ports piece­meal peace­keep­ing plan

Canada in­ter­ested in mak­ing sev­eral smaller con­tri­bu­tions in­stead of one ma­jor ini­tia­tive


— The United Na­tions is send­ing early sig­nals that it ap­proves of Canada’s forth­com­ing plans for peace­keep­ing, which are ex­pected to in­volve sev­eral smaller con­tri­bu­tions rather than a sin­gle spe­cific mis­sion that gets all of the gov­ern­ment’s avail­able re­sources.

The Trudeau gov­ern­ment is promis­ing to fi­nally open the cur­tains — at least partly — Wed­nes­day on what sort of mil­i­tary per­son­nel and equip­ment it’s will­ing to of­fer to help with the UN’s peace­keep­ing ef­forts.

The long-awaited de­ci­sion comes more than a year af­ter the Liberals first promised to make up to 600 Cana­dian troops and 150 po­lice of­fi­cers avail­able to the UN, and as the gov­ern­ment plays host to a ma­jor peace­keep­ing sum­mit in Van­cou­ver.

Sources have said that rather than fo­cus­ing on one mis­sion, Canada is of­fer­ing the UN a ver­i­ta­ble grab bag of good­ies in the form of he­li­copters, train­ers and other as­sets for a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent mis­sions.

While such an ap­proach might seem scat­ter­shot, it’s ac­tu­ally prefer­able when it comes to de­vel­oped coun­tries like Canada, the UN’s un­der­sec­re­tary gen­eral for field sup­port told The Cana­dian Press in an in­ter­view Tues­day.

That’s be­cause many mis­sions are short on the type of high-end equip­ment and per­son­nel that Canada can of­fer, said Atul Khare, who over­sees the day-to-day op­er­a­tions of peace­keep­ing mis­sions in the field.

“It is pre­cisely in these high-tech­nol­ogy ar­eas — en­gi­neers, hos­pi­tals and doc­tors, strate­gic air­lift and tac­ti­cal air­lift — that de­vel­oped coun­tries have the largest con­tri­bu­tion to make sim­ply be­cause they have the ca­pac­ity,” Khare said.

“And I do see a great ad­van­tage of dis­tribut­ing that ca­pac­ity be­cause, through dis­tri­bu­tion of that ca­pac­ity, the gaps are bet­ter filled glob­ally.

“Rather than only mak­ing one mis­sion 100 per cent, you im­prove many mis­sions from, say, 70 per cent to 80 per cent, which is a bet­ter way of im­prov­ing the sit­u­a­tion glob­ally.”

As he was wrap­ping up his visit to the Philip­pines for the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions sum­mit, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said Tues­day that Canada’s con­tri­bu­tion would en­sure “max­i­mal pos­i­tive im­pact, not just for Cana­dian con­tri­bu­tions but for all peace­keep­ers.”

Sources say the gov­ern­ment has put sev­eral of­fers on the ta­ble, in­clud­ing the de­ploy­ment of he­li­copters to help in Mali, and a trans­port plane in Uganda to as­sist dif­fer­ent mis­sions in Africa. Canada is also re­port­edly ready to pro­vide a rapid-re­ac­tion force in the Golan Heights be­tween Is­rael and Syria; con­trib­ute to the UN’s new po­lice mis­sion in Haiti; and send train­ers to help other coun­tries to be­come bet­ter at peace­keep­ing.

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